Mothers everywhere were really onto something when they instructed their children to sit up straight. Not only is an upright position found to increase energy levels and enhance our overall mood, it’s also been shown to increase our confidence, as in this 2013 preliminary research conducted by Harvard Business professor Amy Cuddy and her colleague, Maarten W. Bos.
Positioning yourself in a powerless, crouched position can make your brain more predisposed towards hopelessness!
In the study, the researchers found that people who sit in collapsed positions—usually adopted to look at small wireless devices like smartphones and tablets—were less likely to stand up for themselves. Participants with bad posture were also the slowest to ask if they could leave when the experiment had been declared over.
On the other hand, participants who were randomly assigned larger devices, like laptops and desktops, were more likely to sit upright and be assertive in asking if they could leave.
From a purely cognitive perspective, positioning yourself in a powerless, crouched position can make your brain more predisposed towards hopelessness, as well as more likely to recall depressive memories and thoughts. Researchers say this phenomenon is ingrained in our biology and traces back to how body language is “closely tied to dominance across the animal kingdom,” as Cuddy writes in her new book, Presence.
So what’s the best way to ensure you feel powerful in both body and mind? Erik Peper, a professor who studies psychophysiology at San Francisco State University, advises checking your posture every hour to make sure you’re not in the iHunch, or iPosture, position. He also advises bringing smaller devices up to your face while in use instead of forcing yourself to look downward at them in a collapsed position.
- Vivian Giang